My mom was never a great cook. She loved to bake, and once had dreams of becoming a professional
baker. But her cooking was uninspired. I have to put some of that blame on my dad, who was strictly a meat and potatoes kinda guy who didn’t like to venture outside of his very narrow culinary tastes.
This narrowness led to an often repeated meal. One of these was pea soup, especially in the winter. The ingredients were simple: Water, a bag of spilt peas, chopped up celery, carrots, onions and of course, potatoes, and often my mom would add a ham hock.
My dad worked as a machinist. He would work from 7-4. He expected dinner to be ready and on the table by 4:30. No one ate dinner as early as we did, but that’s a whole different story.
My mom worked at night. She worked from 10pm-6am so she slept during the morning to mid afternoon. I was still quite young during this particular pea soup creation and had not yet been given the task of cooking every day as I would in my older years. So this mishap could not be blamed on me.
I remember her starting the pea soup shortly after noon, giving it enough time to cook and be ready for my dad’s desired dinner time. She threw everything into the soup pot, turned on the stove, and that was all that was needed. Other than the occasional stir of the pot to keep the peas from burning, there was little else to do.
Once it was nearly done, a taste to test the seasonings (salt and pepper was as exotic as this soup got) and a simple adjustment would be done if needed. It was during this last step of the pea soup making that I heard my mother scream as if she were hit by a bullet.
I don’t know how she messed up a dish she cooked quite often. But she did. She had thrown in so much salt that it was inedible. She must have salted it three times. What to do? She didn’t have time to create another pot of pea soup. She didn’t have enough time to cook anything else. Dinner HAD to be done by the time my dad came home. He was not one to suggest going out for dinner.
What is the opposite of salty?
She dumped sugar into the pot of pea soup. It took quite a lot to balance out the saltiness to make the soup edible.
My dad came home. We sat down for dinner at 4:30 as usual. My mom watched my dad dig into his bowl of soup. She claimed to not be hungry, and ate very little. I ate alongside my father as did my little sister, not really understanding what the big deal was.
My dad cleaned up his bowl and went for more.
He never suspected my mom’s blunder. He did complain later that evening of being unusually thirsty, as if he had eaten too much salt. Of course, my mom never told him, not until many years later.
Sometimes it is possible that two wrongs WILL make it right.